GAL: What was the name of the first book you fell in love with, that turned you into a life long reader?
ALR: Monique Wittig’s Les Guérillères was the first book I had to read for school that didn’t feel like a chore. I wasn’t a big reader until I figured out that I could read texts that would influence the things I was making with my hands, which was in college. This book is fiercely feminist and physically laid out in an elegant way that disrupts traditional narrative.
GAL: What is the power of story? Describe some ways in which fictional narratives have impacted you and your life.
ALR: Right now I’m reading Colin Ellard’s Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life. This isn’t a fictional narrative, but a non-fictional one. The book is full of theories and data examining human preference towards certain types of environments and structures because of how they make us feel; I think about these points and how they relate to objects I make and the way I display them. In reading about factors of habitat selection for animals (“to see and not be seen” is a crucial element) being related to how humans prefer cafe tables, or park benches around the perimeter of a space as opposed to the center, I find myself thinking about the structures of the recent sculptures I’ve built, how they act as screens or bunkers that shield, and how their placement in a gallery space can become directive for the viewer. Reading studies that impact theory on human nature and domestic space allows me to create narratives in my own studio, which could be perceived as non-fictional. It makes me wonder if the objects I create are fictional or non-fictional, functional or non-functional. The power of the story is that text allows me to enter the studio and create my own.
GAL: Do you have a current – or “forever” – favorite book?
ALR: Maggie Nelson’s The Art of Cruelty is a book I tried to read so slowly. I think I even started reading a second or third book simultaneously to distract myself and not zip through it, I just never wanted it to end! Her words about life, art, and criticism rang so true; I wanted this book to go on forever, and the way she speaks makes it seem as though it could, in my own head. I come back to it very often.
“The power of the story is that text allows me to enter the studio and create my own.”
GAL: How often do you read? Please estimate.
ALR: About an hour each day.
GAL: Is it important for you to physically hold a book you read? Or can you read on a device with no problem and no impact on the experience?
ALR: I like to read from a physical book. I like to underline and make notes.
GAL: Who is your favorite author?
ALR: Maggie Nelson! She’s an inspiration. The Argonauts ruled my spring and makes me believe in true love.
GAL: Do you have a current favorite reading spot? Where is it?
ALR: I recently started a new day job and an unlikely location has turned into my new favorite reading spot: the subway.
The 45 minute commute (x2) is really the only time I have for myself during the weekdays, so reading and being in my own head gives me a little retreat before and after working for someone else all day.
GAL: How do you choose the books you read?
ALR: This year I’ve read three books that I saw in friends’ apartments, two from the PS1 book store, one left behind by a subletter, and another picked up while browsing at the book store. Maybe the books choose me.
GAL: Do you prefer non-fiction to fiction? If so, why?
ALR: I definitely prefer non-fiction, I find things that are based in some sort of truth are more applicable to my impulse and desire to read.
GAL: If you read non-fiction, what genre do you prefer?
ALR: I like to read theory, art history, biographies and memoirs.
GAL: If you were to write your memoir, what would you title it?
ALR: Portrait of the Artist as a Perpetually Single Woman.
GAL: Please name three books you recommend reading, and the reasons for your choices.
ALR: I would recommend the three books from question #6 that are on my sanity shelf — each speaks to creativity and productivity in a prescriptive, inspiring, and bizarre way, respectively.